By Mark Gongloff
The sun needs about 250 million years to orbit around the center of the Milky Way, but you only need to know seven and a half things each day. Here they are:
Thing One: Killing With Cash: Obama is a dangerous socialist! Without America's helpful campaign finance laws, the only way you could get this important message out would be by screaming it at a Tea Party rally or on a nationally syndicated radio show. Now, thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, you can spend a small fortune to make sure the whole world knows it.
That's what 80-year-old Texas chemical-and-metal magnate Harold Clark Simmons has been doing, according to a Wall Street Journal profile. He and his wife have been tossing off million-dollar checks to Republican campaigns like most of us pay water and garbage bills. No other individual has spent more on this election than Simmons, who has dropped $18 million so far and plans to spend another $18 million by November, all to get rid of "that socialist, Obama," who Simmons says is "the most dangerous American alive."
Nothing inflammatory about that at all, just like there's nothing at all inflammatory about him telling the WSJ that "we could have killed Obama" in 2008. He's talking, of course, about using ads to metaphorically "kill" the president, not anything serious, you guys. He paid money for ads in 2008 tying Obama to Bill Ayers, just as he bankrolled the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004. He obviously can't wait to start making some ads again in this election cycle, probably beneath this patriotic American painting of Obama burning the Constitution, which, again, is not inflammatory in the slightest.
Thing Two: About That Rally: The stock market is a little bit like one of those shows you used to watch and then forgot about and didn't realize was still running. "'Survivor?' That's still on?" People are studiously not putting new money to work in the stock market, which is now cared about mainly by traders and excitable financial journalists. While you were not looking, the stock market recently jumped to new multi-year highs, but in the past few days has struggled. China's economic data have suddenly come a-cropper, as they did again this morning, with weaker-than-expected manufacturing numbers. That has European stocks down this morning and could hit U.S. stocks again. Oh, and Spanish bond yields are jumping, so that whole European debt crisis thing may not be totally solved, either. Just so you know.
Thing Three: Claims On Your Attention: U.S. economic data have been a little mixed lately, too -- not bad or anything, but just not great enough to help keep the stock rally going. We get more today, in the form of weekly unemployment claims data, the FHFA's house-price index and a measure of leading economic indicators from the Conference Board, a private research firm.
Thing Four: Deutsche Bank Dodge: Banks hate the new Dodd-Frank financial-reform law, but European banks seem to have found an easy way out of it: They can simply declare their U.S. units to no longer be "bank holding companies," et voila, they don't have to raise more capital to comply with Dodd-Frank. That's what Deutsche Bank and Barclays have done with their U.S. units, the Wall Street Journal writes, and other banks will probably follow suit.
Thing Six: That's What Friends Are For: China is so darn good at spying on its citizens that it wants to share its knowledge with the world, Reuters reports: "A Chinese telecommunications equipment company has sold Iran's largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile and internet communications, interviews and contract documents show."
Thing Seven: Squid Loses Court Fight: As if Goldman Sachs didn't have enough headaches, it lost a court fight yesterday to throw out a lawsuit alleging it stuffed securities full of subprime garbage that it planned to bet against and then tried to sell those garbage-stuffed securities to clients. Goldman has already paid the SEC $550 million to settle such charges.
Thing Seven And One Half: Timmy And The Jets: So Tim Tebow is a New York Jet now. Tebow's new teammates were, let's say, nonplussed. In happier news, you've probably already seen this, but wouldn't you like to watch the Mitt Romney-as-Eminem mashup again?